Ward Hayden & The Outliers // The Rear Defrosters- Double EP Release Party
Ward Hayden & The Outliers (formerly Girls Guns & Glory)- "One of Rolling Stone Country's 10 New Bands You Need To Hear"
Love and Protest: two concepts that seldom go hand in hand. Until you think about it a while.
Thats what singer, guitarist and songwriter Ward Hayden did as he began mapping out plans for Girls Guns & Glorys next album, which happens to be called Love and Protest.
That title sums up this album and it sums me up very well too, he says. Weve done 10 years of touring, living, learning and growing, maturing and developing a broader world view, a view outside of the small town where I grew up.
That decade began with Hayden and several like-minded musicians getting together. Their love for early rock n roll, true country, raw blues and pretty much any kind of authentic American music branded them quickly as anomalous and electrifying. Since that time theyve barnstormed far beyond their Boston hometown, playing honky-tonks, beer joints and more recently concert venues throughout the U.S. Theyve amassed a loyal legion of fans along the way. The media have noticed too, including Rolling Stone, which heralds them as a modern-day Buddy Holly plus Dwight Yoakam divided by the Mavericks.
Now, in this milestone year, with Girls Guns & Glory recording for the first time on its own label, the group has channeled all its experience into its most personal and, paradoxically, hardest-rocking release to date.
Love and Protest is the name of the album because its songs explore the emotion of love, Hayden explains. And when love is faced with opposition, its the protest of that emotion. Its alpha and omega love and protest. Theres a lot of ground to cover between those two extremes.
They begin with the albums first single and opening track. Rock n Roll. With bassist Paul Dilley and drummer Josh Kiggans laying down a no-nonsense, backbeat-driven groove, lead vocalist and guitarist Hayden sings, Im a hunter, a collector of things. I keep holding onto bad memories. And yet, when the chorus hits, he proclaims that hesready to rock n roll.
Like much of Haydens work, these lyrics run deeper than they seem at first listen, with a sub current of heartbreak and obsession. I dont just collect physical trinkets, Hayden notes. This song is more about experiences and memories, the things you cant see but they stay with you in your head and your heart.
Similar spirits haunt the bitterly self-destructive Wine Went Bad (But Im Still Drinkin), the loneliness of Reno, Nevada (I might as well be a world away), the exquisitely pure honky-tonk lament Empty Bottles, the painful introspection of Memories Dont Die and Stare at the Darkness, and Diamondillium, a dystopian meditation shaded by noir guitar and incongruously inspired by an episode of Futurama really, everything on the album, including its one cover, a resurrection of Gram Parsons Hot Burrito #1.
The growth and maturity of Girls Guns & Glory as a band is what led us to take on this song, Hayden says. Lyrically, I think its a song that would make Hank Williams proud. Love was, and is, there in the person telling the story, but his love interest has taken thethings shes learned from their relationship and moved on to someone else. The storyteller is left to pine over it. Its love and protest exemplified.
To complement the immediacy of Haydens words, Girls Guns & Glory elected to cut Love and Protest entirely in analog, with Drew Townson, an acknowledged master of that format, recruited to produce with the band.
Theres a nostalgia to working with analog, Hayden says. There are also limitations no editing, making sure you dont run out of tape. But those limitations force you to let things go, let things happen. The anxiety begets beauty and makes the band do its best every take, firing on all cylinders and working together as a cohesive unit.
Its as stripped-down as weve ever been. Even going into it, I didnt imagine it would turn out as pure as it did.
Going back to analog parallels the bands return to its earliest days as an independent act, in control of its career. This is the first album in eight years where we did everything ourselves, Hayden says. Its the first album weve co-produced. We dont worry about appeasing a label anymore. Were creating music only for ourselves and our fans.
To illustrate, he points to one track, Man Wasnt Made, an affirmation that man wasntmade to just lay down and die, set to a rollicking rockabilly beat and ignited by sparks of steel guitar. When we were working with a label, they kept telling me that protest songs dont sell so they didnt want to put this kind of cut on a record. Well, he says, smiling, now we can sneak in a couple of actual protest songs, in a not-so-sly way.
With this record, we feel almost like a brand new band, he continues. We take things in a different direction. A lot of that is because a shift has occurred on our tours. Were getting out of the bars and playing more in theaters and listening rooms. Instead of just trying to keep people on the dance floor for three hours, were crafting songs for people who really like to listen. Thats allowed us to dig deeper lyrically, to make more mature music with a higher level of musicianship. Were making the music we want to make. Were not limiting it to any genre in particular. Were willing to do whatever feels right forthe song.
You could say, Hayden concludes, were a bigger part of the music itself than weve ever been.
Nothing could be better news for those who have loved Girls Guns & Glory. Nothing cangive more hope to all still waiting for their faith in real, honest-to-God American music to be restored.
The Rear Defrosters- The Rear Defrosters are a honky tonk, country soul rock-n-roll band with a large and rotating cast of all-star players from Vermont, New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts. They are most at home playing in country roadhouses, at farm weddings, for barn dances and hoedowns, and anywhere there is cold beer nearby.
The Stone Church (View)
210 Main st
Brattleboro, VT 05301
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